President Trump’s return to Michigan draws thousands in Muskegon – The Detroit News

Muskegon — President Donald Trump will be back in Michigan for a rally Saturday afternoon, and thousands of people were gathering outside an airport hangar in Muskegon to greet him.

The crowded event comes 17 days before the Nov. 3 election and as the state experienced its largest number of cases in a week since the pandemic began at 10,241 cases. On Saturday, 23 more deaths brought Michigan’s COVID-19 death toll over 7,000.

The Republican president’s visit also comes a day after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden visited Southfield and Detroit. 

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally last month in Freeland, Michigan.

“I think this is an indicator to the country that the state of Michigan is well in play,” said state House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering. “The fact that Joe Biden and President Trump are both visiting Michigan is something that should concern Democrats across the country.

“All eyes are on Michigan again. We were here four years ago, and it’s going to be the same result.”

Trump won the state by 10,704 votes in 2016, his smallest margin of victory nationally.

Trump’s son, Eric, Vice President Mike Pence and his daughter-in-law Lara visited Michigan in the last six days. Daughter Ivanka Trump is headed to Alto on Monday, the Trump campaign said Saturday.

The campaign has also increased its television ad spending here this week, according to data from the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

But polling has shown the president behind Biden in key battleground states, including Michigan. Biden led Trump 48% to 39% in a Detroit News-WDIV poll of 600 likely Michigan voters, who were surveyed from Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The poll had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Trump last visited the state on Sept. 10, when he drew thousands of people to an airport hangar in Freeland, near Midland and Saginaw.

Biden has visited three times since the start of September,  stopping in Detroit and Warren on Sept. 9, Grand Rapids on Oct. 2 and Southfield and Detroit on Friday.

In Southfield, the former vice president slammed Trump for not doing enough to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and racism in the country.

Unlike Trump, who has been holding large outdoors rallies across the country, Biden has spoken at small events — usually not open to the public — with dozens of people wearing masks and socially distanced six feet apart from one another. The former Delaware senator held a Friday evening car rally at Detroit’s State Fairgrounds.

The country hasn’t “turned the corner” when it comes to the pandemic, Biden said Friday.

“It’s not disappearing. In fact, it’s on the rise again,” he said.

Michigan has reported its two largest days ever for new COVID-19 cases this week with 2,030 new cases on Thursday and 2,015 new cases on Friday amid fears that a second wave of the virus could be hitting the state.

Glenn Kangas, 82, of Cadillac was one of thousands gathered in Muskegon for the president’s rally. Kangas wore an N95 mask and held a sign that said “Biden elected. USA gone.”

“I’m a little reluctant to come to these things,” he said. “But I’m trying to be careful.”

Kangas arrived at 10 a.m., seven hours before Trump was scheduled to speak. 

During a Saturday press conference, state Rep. Terry Sabo, D-Muskegon, called the Trump rally in his county “very concerning.” He said it seemed like Trump was focused on “doing whatever it takes to get re-elected” instead of doing what’s best for public safety.

“It’s putting the health of the residents here in Muskegon County at risk,” Sabo said. “We have people coming from all over the place to be a part of this rally, and history has shown that the president doesn’t necessarily care about public safety when it comes to wearing a mask, doing the simple things that can prevent this virus, limiting the crowd sizes.”

Located along Lake Michigan, Muskegon County is Michigan’s 12th largest county.

In 2012, President Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney in the county by 13,552 votes. Four years later, Clinton only beat Trump here by 1,177 votes — a four-year difference that was more than Trump’s overall margin of victory in Michigan.

cmauger@detroitnews.com

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Trump’s visit comes a day after his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, made stops in Detroit and Southfield. The two campaigns are focusing in on Michigan, which the Republican won by 10,704 votes in 2016, his smallest margin of victory nationally.

Trump’s son, Eric, Vice President Mike Pence and his daughter-in-law, Lara, have all visited Michigan in the last six days. The campaign has also increased its TV ad spending in the state this week, according to data from the nonprofit Michigan Campaign Finance Network. 

But polling has shown the president behind Biden in key battleground states, including Michigan. Biden led Trump 48% to 39% in a Detroit News and WDIV poll of 600 likely Michigan voters, who were surveyed from Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The poll had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

During a stop in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Pence said polling this fall was similar to surveys at the same point before the 2016 election that show Trump behind Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“The road to victory runs right through Michigan,” Pence said during his speech.

Trump last visited the state on Sept. 10 when he drew thousands of people to an airport hangar in Freeland, near Midland and Saginaw.

Biden has visited three times since the start of September,  stopping in Detroit and Warren on Sept. 9, Grand Rapids on Oct. 2 and Southfield and Detroit on Friday.

In Southfield on Friday, the former vice president slammed Trump for not doing enough to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and racism in the country.

Unlike Trump who has been holding large outdoors rallies across the country, Biden has spoken at small events — generally not open to the public — with dozens of people, wearing masks and socially distanced six feet apart from one another.

The country hasn’t “turned the corner” when it comes to the pandemic, Biden said on Friday.

“It’s not disappearing. In fact, it’s on the rise again,” he said.

Michigan has reported its two largest days ever for new COVID-19 cases this week with 2,030 new cases on Thursday and 2,015 new cases on Friday amid fears that a second wave of the virus could be hitting the state.

During a press conference Saturday, state Rep. Terry Sabo, D-Muskegon, called the Trump rally in his county during the pandemic “very concerning.” He said it seemed like Trump was focused on “doing whatever it takes to get re-elected” instead of doing what’s best for public safety.

“It’s putting the health of the residents here in Muskegon County at risk,” Sabo said. “We have people coming from all over the place to be a part of this rally, and history has shown that the president doesn’t necessarily care about public safety when it comes to wearing a mask, doing the simple things that can prevent this virus, limiting the crowd sizes.”

Located along Lake Michigan, Muskegon County is Michigan’s 12th largest county.

In 2012, President Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney in the county by 13,552 votes. Four years later, Clinton only beat Trump here by 1,177 votes — a four-year difference that was more than Trump’s overall margin of victory in Michigan.

cmauger@detroitnews.com

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